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New Bengals LB James Harrison: 'I don't hate the Steelers'

By Ryan Wilson |

James Harrison doesn't think the move to a 4-3 defense will be a problem. (USATSI)
On Tuesday, the Bengals announced they signed James Harrison. The former Steelers linebacker was one of the league's best players in recent years but age, injury and salary made him in expendable in Pittsburgh.

So after 10 seasons with the Steelers, including Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2008, Harrison is now in Cincinnati with a young team that won 10 games last season and made the playoffs for the second straight time.

And the man who once body-slammed a Browns fan must now have some hard feelings for the Steelers, right? Turns out, no, not so much.

"I don't have a chip on my shoulder against the Steelers," Harrison said during a Tuesday conference call with reporters. "I don't hate the Steelers. All the things they're saying, that the media is blowing it up to be. …

"Am I disappointed? Yeah, I'm disappointed," Harrison admitted. "But when the negotiations first started, I basically knew the situation was going to be what it was going to be. I wish them the best, except for when we play. And I'm assuming they wish me the same, except when we play them."

Harrison admitted staying close to Pittsburgh was a priority because his family lives there, but that didn't necessarily mean he'd end up with one of the other AFC North teams. It just worked out that way, and the Bengals seemed like a logical fit.

"My thing was I wanted to play with a team that was competitive and had a chance of winning a Super Bowl," he said. "I felt like (defending champion) Baltimore and Cincinnati were those teams."

Incidentally, Harrison appeared set to sign with the Ravens until they landed Elvis Dumervil.

Still, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis sounded happy to have Harrison.

"With James, that was a big addition to us," Lewis said. "It kind of revved us from where we were a year ago, a step up from where we were a year ago in an area where I hoped to try to improve in some way or another. So we were able to do that."

As for Harrison moving from a 3-4 scheme in Pittsburgh to a 4-3 in Cincy, he says there's nothing to worry about.

“It's not really a concern," he said. "Some of the defenses that we do are the same terminology. The coverages are the same, it's just you might switch from side to side. I'll be playing sometimes stack like a regular inside linebacker that would play a 3-4.”

Harrison, who will turn 35 in May, had just six sacks last season, his lowest output since becoming a starter in 2007.

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